November 7, 2009 in City

Threat won’t lead to Mead expulsion

Student’s joke triggered school lockdown; charge also may be dialed back
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Expulsion and a felony charge are no longer imminent for the Mead High School student who jokingly threatened to kill a teacher last week.

The 16-year-old will be allowed back into the district in January, and the Spokane County prosecutor’s office is recommending a reduced charge of gross misdemeanor, officials said Friday.

“When I reviewed the case, it felt that a more appropriate charge was threat of bodily harm,” said Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Bill Reeves. No official charging decision has been made, though.

The incident occurred Oct. 28. The boy entered a classroom with his hands extended as if clasping a pistol, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said. He confronted the teacher with the death threat, triggering a schoolwide lockdown.

Apparently, his actions were inspired by a text message from the boy’s girlfriend, who was in the class, saying “she was so bored she wanted to kill herself,” police officials said. The teen walked into the classroom a few moments later.

Thomas White, the father of the girl, sent a letter to Mead High School’s principal as well as The Spokesman-Review. He defended the boy and wrote: “To consider this anything other than a misguided attempt at humor is a failure to understand this situation for what it is.”

Ralph Thayer, spokesman for the Mead School District, said a lot of thought went into whether the teen should be permanently expelled or suspended.

“Even though the student was joking, we don’t take that type of thing lightly,” Thayer said.

“I would think that his standing as a student academically and behaviorally factored into the decision. He would have been expelled if there had been a long history of discipline issues.”

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